Aidenvironment Deforestation System detects fire in top Cerrado deforester SLC Agrícola’s Fazenda Palmeira
Aidenvironment monitors deforestation and fires in biodiversity hotspots and high-risk areas in tropical forest regions, including the Brazilian Cerrado. In May 2021, Aidenvironment’s system detected the first fire event in Cerrado biome that may signal the start of the 2021 fire season, an annual occurrence linked to agricultural expansion in the region.
Aidenvironment’s system detected fires in property Fazenda Palmeira on May 14, 2021, in Tasso Fragoso, Maranhão, that is owned and operated by SLC Agrícola. The Brazilian soy producer states that the property consists of its own and leased areas, totalling 21,094 ha of cropland in the harvesting season of 2019/20. The recent fire falls within SLC Agrícola’s owned part of Fazenda Palmeira. According to a recent CRR report, SLC Agrícola cleared 10,152 ha of native vegetation in its properties in the Cerrado biome in 2020.
Fazenda Palmeira was covered by native vegetation until August 2019 (Figure 1). In September 2019, Aidenvironment’s monitoring system detected a huge fire event (Figure 2), which cleared 4,667 ha of this parcel of Fazenda Palmeira and also 760 ha inside the Legal Reserve of the adjacent area, leased by SLC Agrícola from Nuveen/Westchester Group. The active fires on 12 and 14 May 2021 (Figure 3 and 4) show that 36 ha fall inside the declared Legal Reserve. This area needs to remain intact and covered with native vegetation according to Brazil’s Forest Code.
SLC Agrícola states that it has obtained the environmental licenses for all the recent clearings in compliance to Brazil’s Forest Code. Despite this claim, there is increasing awareness among soy buyers, investors and stakeholders on the risks of legal deforestation. While clearing 20-35% of properties in the Cerrado is permitted by Brazil’s Forest Code, all types of clearing lead to climate and nature risks from the release of greenhouse gas emissions and the loss of carbon stores provided by forests and native vegetation. Against the backdrop of global efforts to prevent rising emissions and avert climate change, SLC Agricola and companies linked to it continue to allow significant deforestation footprint in their supply chains.
Customers of SLC Agricola with zero-deforestation commitments are at risk of violating their commitments. Bunge, one of the main clients of SLC Agrícola, committed to zero-deforestation in its supply chain by 2025. Other large SLC Agricola customers such as Cargill and Amaggi LD Commodities have also committed to eliminate deforestation in their supply chains and bear heightened risks from trade relations with SLC Agricola.
Aidenvironment has been monitoring SLC Agricola for years, reporting on its continuous clearing of native forests and vegetation. In response to public and media pressure, SLC Agrícola affirmed its plans to stop clearing native vegetation from its properties by the end of the 2020/2021 harvesting period.
Aidenvironment will continue to report on the deforestation and sustainability risks of SLC Agricola and work with its stakeholders to drive positive climate action. To collaborate or request more information, please reach out to us here.